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Award-winning poet to visit Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses

Marilyn Chin will visit the University of North Georgia's Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses the first week of February. She will speak about her new book "A Portrait of the Self as Nation," which is a collection of poems. Chin plans to read some of her poems deemed "student favorites," hoping it will lead to an open and lively conversation.

When Dr. Anastasia Lin teaches poetry, she opens the class with a joke.

"At the beginning, some students are scared of poetry," the associate professor of English at the University of North Georgia (UNG) said. "It's gotten a bad reputation."

That's why Lin is looking forward to the upcoming visit of Marilyn Chin, an Asian-American poet who is the 2018 Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Chin has won five Pushcart Prizes, numerous fellowships and a prestigious Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for her work on confronting racism.

"People like Marilyn Chin reinvent poetry in ways that are exciting and fresh," Lin said. "Many students envision poetry in box. … Her poetry defies all boxes."

Author of the new book "A Portrait of the Self as Nation," Chin is scheduled to visit UNG's Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses the first week of February. Her first presentation will be at 5 p.m. Feb. 5 in the Great Room in Hoag Student Center on the Dahlonega Campus. The second will be at noon Feb. 6 in room 3110A the Martha T. Nesbitt Building on the Gainesville Campus. Refreshments will be available during the event.

Chin said she hopes students will learn that their personal, familial and national histories are intertwined.

"We could be happy, sad, funny, and wild in our art and that we must not feel ashamed to express ourselves," she said.

Chin plans to read some of her poems deemed "student favorites," believing it will lead to an open and lively conversation.

"I want to show how reading and writing poetry could enrich our hectic lives," Chin said. "And of course, it would be fun for some to be 'awoken' by an illuminating performance by a wild and blissful Chinese American poet!

This project is supported by Georgia Humanities, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, through funding from the Georgia General Assembly. Co-sponsoring Chin's visit are the College of Arts and Letters, the English department, the Gender Studies Council and Multicultural Student Affairs.

Lin explained Chin's poetic themes touch on all the aforementioned groups sponsoring her visit. For example, Chin is a self-proclaimed feminist activist and an Asian-American who was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon.

"No matter what your background is, there is something for everyone with Chin's poetry," Lin said.

Mandy Losito agreed. As the graduate assistant for the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, she read some of Chin's poetry to help promote her visit.

"I'm not a huge poetry lover," said Losito, a first-year graduate student in UNG's master's in counseling program. "But I was surprised at how easy it was to read. It's not the typical poetry that you get with others like Shakespeare. Chin's modern flair and the way she writes piqued my interest in poetry."

Chin's poem called "Peony" caught Losito's eye because it is her favorite flower, then the poem went in a different direction than she expected.

"The shock factor of Chin's work has been fascinating, but I love the symbolism she uses throughout her poems, and the poem 'Peony' is a great example of that," Losito said.

But Chin is not only a poet. She has also written a prose book "Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen," which examines similar themes as her poetry.

"I think what she is doing is showing how we stereotype and associate one group with specific qualities," Lin said. "In the book, she gives the twin characters multifaceted and differing personalities and perspectives, and we see identity isn't stagnant and no one fits a stereotype."

Visiting poet Marilyn Chin

Feb. 5: 5 p.m. in the Great Room of the Hoag Student Center in Dahlonega

Feb. 6: Noon in 3110A of the Martha T. Nesbitt Building in Gainesville

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